The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 21st February 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 384
Genre: General Fiction
What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?
From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity.
Cornelia (Leah) Blackwood loses her husband Adrian in a car accident. After his funeral, she finds something on his computer – something that makes her start to doubt in Adrian’s loyalty and fidelity and something that is going to change her life. But before it happens, she goes on a quest and investigates to find more. She befriends Cass, a young woman that Leah somehow becomes obsessed with, and her little son Lucas. Is this friendship a casual one or is Leah hiding something from Cass?
The story goes back and forth, from past to present and while it feels a little slow, especially at the beginning, it then steps up the momentum. I also never felt confused and always knew where we are. The story is told mostly through Leah and we slowly get to know her and her background history – how she’s met Adrian, how they got married, through the ups and downs of their life together. The past intertwines with the present, hinting that something has happened previously, something bad and wrong, something that caused Leah to lose her credibility and friends. There came a point when I guessed what must have happened and what’s going to happen but it didn’t spoil the reading for me, it rather kept me hooked and made me feel as if I was getting a chill up my spine, predicting the worse to happen.
I fell for Leah, to be honest. Her story was like one tragedy happening upon another one and seeing her surviving all of them was incredibly uplifting, and it took almost till the end to reveal why she’s getting the treatment that she’s getting. The story of Leah was somehow heart – breaking, and the author has done such a great job in capturing and describing her feelings of loss, despair and desperation. She has by any means found words to bring it to us so that the pain was palpable and you couldn’t help but fell for Leah and feel sympathy for her. While you’ll probably have problems with accepting Leah’s choices, you will also understand why she made them. Her wanting something that she couldn’t have has filled her every waking moment yet it didn’t feel too overwhelming for me as a reader, too repeating, and the author has always revealed the right amount of information in the particular moment, leaving me wondering and wanting more.
This is a book that tackles some serious and heavy issues with tons of gentleness and sensitivity. It’s heartbreakingly and brutally honest in explaining how it feels to be grieving and to be mentally ill. The author has really has done her research and she deserves a standing ovation for writing with so much feeling and understanding, without judging. This novel was sad, it was tragic, it was full of tension and the feeling that something’s going to happen. Yes, I guessed the outcome, but still I was glued to the pages and drawn into this story.
Altogether, “The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood” was deeply emotionally charged and it’ll leave you thinking and wondering. It was a well – kept mystery, filled with enough red herrings, twists and turns. It was a captivating, heart – breaking story of grief, love and desperation. The author deals with postpartum psychosis in a very gentle, sensitive way and gives her character a chance after a chance. It was a hugely emotional read but I wouldn’t call it depressing – it was simply sad but without it being too overwhelming a feeling. Susan Elliot Wright has written it in a no – nonsense way, brutally honest and well, it’s a read that’s going to take your breath away, to make you stop and think – just my favourite kind of read, even if I wouldn’t classify it as the easiest read. Highly recommended!